What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mating Orange Beetles
Sun, Feb 8, 2009 at 12:17 AM
Many of these beetles were mating this fall amongst the wildflowers here in Colorado Springs.
Nick DeBarmore
Colorado Springs, CO

Mating Soldier Beetles, possibly Colorado Soldier Beetles
Mating Soldier Beetles, possibly Colorado Soldier Beetles

Dear Nick,
These are some species of Soldier Beetle or Leatherwing from the genus Chauliognathus.  There is a very common eastern species, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle, but according to BugGuide, there have been no reports from Colorado.  There are several species that have been reported from Colorado, but exact species identification is difficult due to your camera angle.  Were we to hazard a guess, we would say these are most likely  Colorado Soldier Beetles, Chauliognathus basalis, but the distinguishing features according to BugGuide:  “head, antennae, legs black; pronotum and elytra reddish-orange; pronotum with semicircular or U-shaped black mark on posterior half; elytra with triangular black patch at base and rectangular black patch at tip color of elytra is apparently variable (polymorphic) and is the subject of research papers ” are not visible in your image.  As a general note on the excellent macro photographs you have sent to us for identification:  images showing only the specimens’ heads makes identification very difficult for us.  We would request that you only send images of the entire insect in question for identification purposes.

Update
August 10, 2009
This copulating pair of soldier beetles is most likely C. pennsylvanicus and not C. basalis.  The color and elytral markings are much more consistent with that of C. pennsylvanicus and do not resemble those of C. basalis.  See the image from the Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings post of Dec. 16, 2006 and you will see that these two images represent the same beetle species.  I grew up collecting copulating C. pennsulvanicus from wild sunflowers in SD and have seen thousands of them.
snethen

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4 Responses to Mating Soldier Beetles from Colorado, probably Colorado Soldier Beetles

  1. snethen says:

    This copulating pair of soldier beetles is most likely C. pennsylvanicus and not C. basalis. The color and elytral markings are much more consistent with that of C. pennsylvanicus and do not resemble those of C. basalis. See the image from the Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings post of Dec. 16, 2006 and you will see that these two images represent the same beetle species. I grew up collecting copulating C. pennsulvanicus from wild sunflowers in SD and have seen thousands of them.

  2. snethen says:

    Please disregard the previous post…I think they might be C. basalis.

  3. Michael F. Crowe says:

    I have some images of the Colorado Plains Solider beetle, Chauliognathus basalis, most often referred to as ‘soldier beetle’, and sometimes as ‘leatherwings’. The Chauliognathus basalis – Colorado Plains Soldier Beetle (CPSB) – Cantharidae, are common in this area, (Cherry Creek State Park, Denver, Colorado, 80015, elev. = 5,500ft / 1,676M) from mid-July through mid-September and populate the rabbitbrush (Ericamesia) in large numbers. The CPSB seems to co-exist with butterflies and bees, who regularly uses the rabbitbrush as a feeding and breeding station. I cannot discern any damages to the rabbitbrush by CPSD.
    This coming summer season of 2016 will allow me to capture more micro- images of this common insect of the western high-plains.

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